Black Rainbow Launched Edinburgh Festival2005 Ediburgh Festival had an explosive start. Black Rainbow Explosion, a one-minute pyrotechnic display, marked the beginning of the Festival season at 7pm, 29 July.

Black Rainbow was designed by a Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang, who is renown for his works using fireworks and gunpower. His works include a fireworks display over MoMA (Museum of Modern Arts) in New York, a wall of gunpower to extend the Great Wall of China, and the failed attempt (caused by bad weather) to send a dragon of fire darting through central London.

To creat the Black Rainbow, 1200 pyrotechnic shells were fired to the sky above Edinburgh Castle to form an arch of black. This project is similar to a performance earlier this year in Valencia, in which event a black arc was created by a series of firework explosions partly to commemorate the victims of the Madrid bombings.

“We had a completely different theme for Edinburgh initially,” explains Guo-Qiang, 48, who is now based at New York, “It was to do with Edinburgh as a town with a history of ghost stories. But now, with the London bombings, (the event we are staging) looks more similar to the Valencia event.”

Cai’s works are also exhibited at the Fruitmarket Gallery, named Life Beneath the Shadow, which is his biggest exhibition in the UK to date. Working with the prominent Scottish writer James Robertson, Cai draws the portraits of some of the most notorious Scottish figures and events using gunpower on paper.